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Post #620 • September 8, 2005, 10:55 AM • 8 Comments
The season begins this weekend. Please avail yourself of Go See Art, noting recent additions: three openings tonight in the Design District, including my friend Carlos de Villasante, Bas Fisher, and the Moore Building. AI/MIUAD and Art & Culture Center follow on Friday, and a whole slew of stuff happens in Wynwood Satruday.
Also, I fixed a bug that sometimes caused different shows in the same space to display in a non-contiguous manner.
For the record, I very much look forward to imminently upcoming functionality on GSA that will allow people to
give me money for this advertise.
September 8, 2005, 12:31 PM
The show I mentioned to Oldpro and Franklin, but not here on the blog, is of paintings by Guido Llinas, one of the key artists who introduced abstraction to Cuban art in the early 1950s. They were influenced by the AbEx New York painters and rejected the nationalistic, "local color" approach that had prevailed in Cuba until then. Llinas happened to be a tall black man, a former basketball player, and he also did excellent abstract woodcuts (made with an ax). He left Cuba in 1963 in search of artistic freedom and lived the rest of his life in Paris. He kept working till he died this year at 82, after being hit by a motorcycle while crossing a street. He always remained faithful to his own style.
The show is at the downtown Miami Dade Community College (300 NE 2nd Ave, Building 1, Room 1365 on the third floor, which is their Center Gallery). It's only up through this Saturday (Saturday hours are 11 AM to 3 PM). It's not the epitome of curatorial finesse, as it was more or less improvised as a memorial to Llinas by his admirers in Miami, but there are some very strong pieces in it.
Check out his website guidollinas.com for some images and more info.
September 8, 2005, 11:22 PM
Jack, thanks for the heads up on Guido Llinas.
Unfortunately, I was unable to get an plane ticket so I'll miss the show, but I looked for quite awhile at the paintings of Guido Llinas on his website and was pleasantly surprised. I also thought the prints were worth a hard look, I especially like the woodcuts which have a violent edginess about them, a quality which happens to appeal to me at the moment.
I searched on the web but couldn't find any reproductions of works from the early 60's. The earliest work on the site was Signs from 1966-67. I was curious, since in 1963 he went into exile in Paris and I wondered how this might have changed his work. The works reproduced from 1966 on, are tough as nails abstract expressionism and international in style (as opposed to regional) I find it interesting that the work manages to transcend an Afro-Cuban label. I view this positivly and suspect it has a lot to do with his leaving Cuba for Paris.
There are some "mixed media" paintings from the 80's which I am assuming were the ones described as "etched with acid" or "hosed off" What was that all about? It's totally impossible to tell from a reproduction.
September 9, 2005, 1:59 AM
As I can not attend any of the goseeart exhibits, I will do what I can with what I have before me (on my computer). And although I do not consider myself an art critic as such, in lieu of recent argumentative posts regarding art criticism and opinionated valuations, I will put myself in the line of fire by briefly stating how good I think de Villasante's and Llinas' works are. Enough similarities between the two that I would guess oldpro remembered Llinas after seeing de Villasante?
How good does each other reader here think they are? George has already commented on Llinas, but how good are they to you George? Humour me by deigning to rate them. Jack, you linked to Llinas and provided a synoptic biography (thank you), but how good were they to you?
Although I sense promise in some of de Villasante's individual pieces, most of what I could look at online felt like only the start for an artwork. Thumbs down, one star out of three. The best of the lot was an acrylic-on-linen bit called "Mi Promesa". I was quite pleased with the textures of the linen and the drawing on it until I recognized the wrestling mask motif, abstracted though it is. The mask bugs me in all the other work. And I am thankful that I don't read what I take to be Spanish - the text therefore acts to my eye as a corner of simple, decorative white line in a befitting relationship with the more utilitary but still sensitively drawn black. There was one car hood that intrigued me as well - the "Honda Profile". I found its colours and contours (inside and out) to be enjoyable.
Didn't much like Llinas' paintings, and the woodcuts were generally hit and miss for me, but the hits were good, really good even. My rating of Llinas' available online artwork (digital reproductions of probably highly intriguing originals): one thumb up, out of two. Two stars, out of three. I especially liked: "Un recuerdo quizás", "Source d'Ombre", "Eclats multiples-", and the final "Sin título" serigraph. Much of the work is flatly graphic in nature, and the pieces that stand out for me are ones which provide some successful effect of some slight depth, whether by layering of colour or variation in the scale of marks. 'Flat' or 'graphic' can be good too, of course, but with Llinas' style of predominantly blunt-edged-ness I appreciate some spacial articulation.
September 9, 2005, 10:50 AM
Just wanted to chirp in here and thank franklin for all of your efforts to bridge the gap in the arts community. I had familiarized myself with Villasante's work already and look forward to his show. I am also happy to learn of Llinas' work and plan to get out and goseeart. I will probably break with anonomity next year and hopefully start showing again. Great job Mr Einspruch.
September 9, 2005, 12:59 PM
Ahab, I don't have the time right now to comment further on Llinas, but I'll try to later.
September 9, 2005, 1:43 PM
Concerning Llinas, the images on his website should be taken with the requisite caution. The paintings as reproduced generally look too bright, the outlines too sharp, the colors too shrill and the textures too flat. The woodcuts fare worse, because all sense of paper texture is lost, and the images look overexposed or bleached out. There was an extensive show of his woodcuts at MDCC downtown last year (I think), and it was quite impressive, much more than the reproductions.
Llinas and his group in 1950s Cuba, known as Los Once (The Eleven), were deliberately trying to break away from insular, Cuba-centered art. They wanted to be more universal, as well as freer and more innovative. This was all more or less aborted by the Castro takeover, which signaled a regression to Social Realist mode (heroic peasants and so forth) for the next 20 years. Subsequently, Cuban art became much more trendy or "with it," which made it more attractive for foreign consumption and more effective as a PR tool for the regime (which, like any totalitarian system, only allows artists as much "freedom" as it feels it can comfortably keep in check). Castro never rescinded his early dictate to artists and intellectuals of "With the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing."
Llinas specifically did not want to be pigeonholed as an "Afro-Cuban artist" or a "black artist," but rather an artist, period. The use of the color black is quite prominent in his work, but he always maintained that was because he liked it (as did Kline, Motherwell, etc.) and not because of his race. He did avail himself of pictorial symbols associated with Afro-Cuban religions, but he was not an expert on or a practitioner of those religions. He also used an African ax for his woodcuts.
As for the acid and the hosing off George refers to, Llinas used a variable technique of applying paint to canvas, then selectively applying a solvent or paint thinner for different periods of time, then literally hosing it off to reveal the effects of the "acid." He typically would place a presumably finished piece facing a wall and out of sight for some weeks, then turn it around for a final inspection, at which time it would either be kept as satisfactory or discarded as a failure.
September 9, 2005, 2:06 PM
This quotation from Llinas might be of interest:
A painting doesn't represent anything. It's a direct expression. Something that must be felt through color and form…My work comes from impulses. It's the gesture that determines what appears on the canvas. It's an improvisation.
September 8, 2005, 12:05 PM
Your Go See Art is excellent and way more complete and professionally done than any other I have seen around here. Who needs the damn Herald. They should simply refer readers to your site.
I hope you can get the word out so you get lots of hits.
Did you include that show of the Cuban abstract artist who died recently that Jack recommended a while ago? I forgot the name, but if his show is still up it certainly should be listed. His work looked very good
I strongly recommend Andy Gambrell at Dorsch Saturday. Also there is an incoming MFA show at the CAS Gallery at UM opening Friday PM. I suspect you were never informed of it.